Archive for the Military stories Category

Military Working Dog Lex Video-Interview with Cpl Lee’s Parents

Posted in fallen handlers, Marine dog teams, Military stories, military working dog handlers, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by wardogmarine

Here is a fantastic interview with fallen Marine Corps military working dog handler Cpl Dustin Lee’s parents.  The Lee’s were allowed to adopt their son’s military working dog Lex after he gave the ultimate price while serving in Iraq, the first time a family of a fallen handler was allowed to adopt their surviving military working dog. MWD Lex was injured and even received a purple heart while serving with Cpl Lee in Iraq. This video is very touching and it is great to see both Lex and the Lee family enjoying their life together. MWD Lex is a very special dog, I wish him and the Lee family all the best. Semper Fidelis

Military Working Dog Lex, Patriot Pet Interview- Army AirForce Exchange Video- Pentagon TV ©AAFES 2009


War dog joins Fox Lake American Legion

Posted in Military stories, Military Working Dogs, retired dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2009 by wardogmarine


By Bob Susnjara-Daily Herald Staff

Fox Lake’s American Legion Post has a new member with four legs, a bite of about 1,200 pounds of pressure per square inch and a willingness to eat meat on a floor.

Dexter became the first military working dog to receive a membership card for American Legion Post 703 at a ceremony Wednesday. Post 703 Cmdr. Jerry Kandziorski said national Legion officials indicated it may well have been a first in the United States.

“He was a tried and true veteran,” Kandziorski said. “He took his time in service and performed his duty. We think he deserves the recognition that should come to anybody.”

Dexter is a Navy veteran who served in Iraq with his handler, Petty Officer 1st Class Kathleen Ellison. One of the 10-year-old German shepherd’s heroic actions occurred in July 2004, when he detected explosives on the gas tank of a garbage truck that would have targeted a mess hall for U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

About 75 guests watched Dexter’s membership ceremony at the Fox Lake American Legion hall, which was complete with an honor guard and invocation by Post 703 chaplain Bill Gordon.


Iraq war veteran Dexter gets a huge bone at American Legion Post 703 in Fox Lake, where he received a membership card at a ceremony Wednesday.

Legion members came bearing gifts for Dexter as well. The canine was a little cool toward a giant bone with a “Welcome Home Dexter” note on it, but he went to town on a 2-pound steak he removed from a platter and ate on the floor.

Ellison, 45, an upstate New York native, said she was in Afghanistan when she recently received word her former partner was in jeopardy of being euthanized in Naples, Italy, because of deteriorating health.

“I said, ‘Well, that is not going to happen. I’ll be there in about three weeks to get him,’ ” said Ellison, who worked with Dexter until May 2005.

Ellison found the Save-a-Vet organization in Lindenhurst, which found Dexter’s new home in Spring Grove. Launched by disabled veteran Danny Scheurer of Round Lake, the group rescues unwanted military and law-enforcement working dogs.

Scheurer said Dexter will live on a property with other retired military and law-enforcement canines where constant care is provided. He said the operation’s owner prefers to be anonymous.


Retired war dog Dexter is escorted Wednesday into the Fox Lake American Legion Post 703 hall by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kathleen Ellison. Dexter became an American Legion member.

Using rest and relaxation time, Ellison left Afghanistan on Christmas Day and picked up Dexter in Naples on Monday. The pair landed Tuesday night in Milwaukee before the war dog’s big day in Fox Lake.

Ellison said she hopes to visit Dexter after her service in Afghanistan ends in about a year. She said she knows he’ll be in good hands at his new home in Spring Grove.

“You hope and pray that there’s going to be a happy ending,” Ellison said. “And there absolutely was. I can’t ask for anything more.”

Just Stay: The Marine Son Story

Posted in dogs, Military stories, police dogs with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2008 by wardogmarine

Found this story and wanted to pass it along. Has nothing to do with working dogs but I enjoyed it so I thought you might.

 Just Stay

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside.

“Your son is here,” she said to the old man.

She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s   eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand.   The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted   ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength.  Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile.
He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.

“Who was that man?” he asked.
The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.
“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”

“I knew right away there had been a mistake,
but I also knew he needed his son, and his
son just wasn’t here.
When I realized that he was too sick to tell
whether or not I was his son,
knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.”

The next time someone needs you … just be there.  Stay.



Rexy Too Sexy

Posted in Marine dog teams, Military stories, Military Working Dogs, Rexy Too Sexy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2008 by wardogmarine

As a handler it’s hard for me to start a blog dedicated to dog teams without talking about my own dog I handled, Rex E168. So I will get this tribute done and move on. No matter what military branch, police dept, security contracting company, or other organization you are apart of that utilizes dogs, every handler feels they have the best dog. Handler’s will brag all day about their dog’s capabilities and that one time they did something amazing. Well I am no different. However, what is different is that I can make a strong case as to why Rex, aka T-Rex, or Rexy too sexy, was one of the best dogs ever to serve his country.

Rex, a German Shepherd, was whelped(born) in April of 2001. He came to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton in the fall of 2002 fresh out of training from Lackland Air Force Base, only one and a half years old. He came when the Camp Pendleton K9 unit was in transition and starting from scratch. They had sent all their dogs away and asked for brand new ones. Rex and a MWD named Robby were the first two dogs sent. This is when we were assigned as a dog team. With the help of other handlers and trainers in the unit, we became a great team together.

Rex rarely missed during detection training, and he was very aggressive and obedient during patrol training. He had everything you could want in a working dog, strong drive, great health, obedient, picked up on training quickly, and just an all around fun dog to work with. Not to mention he was also a magnificent looking German Shepherd.

Now I know that the kind of dog I just described is nothing new to handlers, and that most can make their dogs look like the best trained dog in the world. What a handler is interested in is not if their dog can win blue ribbons and awards, but if it will perform when a real life situation presents itself. This is where the pretenders are separated from the contenders. Rex not only performed, he excelled.

Rex and I had the privilege of deploying with the first wave of Marine dog teams sent to Iraq for OIF II (Operation Iraqi Freedom). For the first few months we were the only dog team assigned to the infantry unit 2/2 out of Camp Lejeune, NC. The unit was based at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah which is one of three cities that when looked on a map formed a triangle and was known as “the triangle of death.” This is about a half hour south of Baghdad and was a hotbed for insurgents.

Our first mission came about a week after getting assigned to the unit. Rex and I were tasked to assist in securing a building, known to have housed insurgents, with a squad of Marines during the middle of the night. The hummers were going to drop the Marines off in the brush a few hundred yards behind the building and drive tacticly back near the front of the building. As soon as the Marines in the rear were in place the hummers would go in from the front and the building would be secured. 

My assignment with Rex was to stay in the hummer until the building was secured and then search for explosives and munitions, sounded easy enough. However, when the hummers dropped the Marines off in the brush a few hundred yards behind the building, the Staff NCO in charge told me to come with them. I told him that I was ordered to stay in the hummer till they secured the area and he quickly snapped back “Screw that, you and the dog come with us!” Rex and I quickly jumped off the hummer and they sped away, and just like that Rex and I were with about a dozen Marines in the brush in the middle of the night, in the middle of an insurgent hotbed with no vehicles in sight.

It was the biggest rush I had ever had in my life. Off in the distance we can see the targeted building. The SNCO very quietly told us to spread out, be quiet, and to hurry into position. We cut a small barbed wire fence that blocked us and we were off running toward the building.

There are a lot of stray dogs in Iraq and as we moved toward the building some strays started to follow us, but when they saw Rex they tried to get close. Rex is an Alpha dog and to be sure he wouldn’t bark and give our position up I quickly put an easy mesh muzzle on him. However, as we ran I would notice Rex trying to swipe the muzzle off and it was slowing him down a little. So to keep up I bit the bullet and trusted my dog by taking off his muzzle and hoping he wouldn’t make a sound. 

As soon as I take it off I could tell he was thinking about squaring off on one of the dogs and maybe even barking so I slapped him very sternly on his snout and told him “quiet”, he never made another sound. Now we are almost in position but keeping us from moving forward is barbed constantino wire stacked about 5 feet high. The Marines are jumping over this thing easily but it posed a big challenge to Rex. Rex could easily clear the 5 feet wire but the wire wasn’t just stacked it was also thick. Another Marine helped by putting a rifle over the wire and we both tried compressing it as much as possible as quick as possible.

I knew Rex was going to need help clearing the fence so I stuck my knee out as he ran and jumped but didn’t get proper leverage off my knee and was about to land right on top of the wire when I quickly stuck my arms underneath him and helped throw him over as the other Marine grabbed his collar to pull him. Rex landed on the first layer of wire, which cut my arms up pretty good, but he barely made a peep as his stomach was cut.

Now we’re in position, the vehicles block the front and the Marines secure the building. During the commotion a possible insurgent escapes and starts running down the street. He was unarmed and so instead of shooting I sent Rex after him. My blood was pumping harder than ever cause as a handler you dream about your dog getting his first real bite. Rex darted after him like a bullet, however as the person passed under a flickering street light I noticed that it was a young kid around 10 or 12 years old. Rex would have hurt him badly, so I called Rex off. Dogs are like a bullet you can call back, just as they are trained to attack they are also trained to stop pursuit if commanded to, which is exactly what I told him to do. He reluctantly came back to me and we finished with the mission.

From maneuvering stealthily in the brush, to clearing barbed wire fences, getting called off on a pursuit, Rex had performed better than I had expected, and this was our first mission! Not your average first mission for most dog teams I would say but my confidence in Rex went through the roof and we went on to complete dozens of missions and patrols. We endured firefights together, bombs, and much more. Rex found large caches of munitions and explosives throughout his time overseas and was welcomed with open arms in the units he helped assist. Who knows the amount of lives he saved from finding so many explosives.  

After I got out of the Marines, Rex went on to do two more tours with his new handler. On his third tour he and his handler were at a checkpoint when they stepped on an IED(improvised explosive device). It was a direct hit. However, the bomb was buried so deep that the ground took most of the blast and threw Rex and his handler about 30 feet. Rex and his handler survived with minor wounds. Let me say that again, Rex and his handler were blown up and walked away from it-amazing. Overall Rex has spent about 25 months in Iraq. Rex not only performed admirably overseas, he also performed several presidential missions, and many other duties that earned many awards and letters of appreciation.

I realize in writing this that I could probably write a book on the dog and maybe will one day, but I had to get this post out because I miss him. When Rex first arrived at Pendleton he was one of about 10 dogs to arrive within a year to get Pendleton’s K9 unit up and running again. Now there is anywhere from 40-60 plus dogs at Pendleton and Rex and Bruno(the late Sgt Adam Cann’s mwd) are the only ones left from the original group sent to restore the kennels.

Rex has lived an amazing working dog’s life. I wish every handler can feel the amount in pride in their dog as I have in Rex.

Semper Fi